The Truth About Boundaries
Of all the B-words that gets a bad name, boundaries has got to be nearing the top of the list. Why? Because, in my experience, many people have a misinformed view of what healthy boundaries can to to preserve their relationships, energy, mental health, financial security, and well-being. I touch upon this in my book, For She Who Leads, but the real guru has to be Dr. Henry Cloud. He pioneered the discussion about boundaries and put out a book defining it further in just about every circumstance, from Boundaries for Leaders to Boundaries in Dating and even Boundaries with Kids. See, something for everyone here.
Prior to working in the talent and coaching industry, I spent a lot of time working with young people and parents. Helping them to understand that boundaries keep us safe was an important part of my work, and engaging people at the level of encouraging them to set realistic boundaries continues to be part of my coaching practice. Ever the self-improver, boundaries have been part of my life for a long time, and I’m always looking at ways to balance clear boundaries and expectations with empathy and flexibility.
One of the things that I try to be clear about are my boundaries related to time, work, and wellness. I’ve learned that for me, stretching too far outside of my established boundaries is a sure-fire energy evaporator for me. I tend to take on a lot of work, projects, and people-helping endeavors. You’d be hard-pressed to invite me to lend a hand and hear me say no. Unless, of course, it violates one of my established boundaries and I can’t reconcile the difference. Preserving my peace and energy is how I can be effective, but fortunately, energy is a renewable resource.
By renewing this resource, I’m able to perform at a higher level. I will share my practices for maintaining energy, and I encourage you to spend a little time considering your own.
I get outside, everyday, for at least an hour. This is usually the first hour of the day for me. I walk, run, or do an outdoor workout. I’ve had to structure my day with this in mind, and find another hour to catch up on emails and phone calls that doesn’t interfere with my professional or family commitments. This has made me more intentional and committed to efficiency. Wasting time means that I don’t get my outdoor time, and that makes for a less-than-pleasant experience of me!
Human connection is critical for someone who is as extroverted as I am! Every day, I need to have one meaningful (adult) conversation or connection. This might be a friend that I call during my walk, or a video chat with a favorite colleague, or perhaps a dinner out with my husband. These adult connections give me the intellectual stimulation that I need to be available for the hours of connectivity that my kids require from (before the) sun up to sun down.
Who can live without good food? Not me. But over the years, I’ve learned that good food for me is not so much chocolate, ice cream, and take out. Nope. Good food for me is much cleaner--because the brain fog that I get from some foods just isn’t worth it. Living with autoimmune disorders requires a clearly regulated diet, but more than that, the energy that I need to get through a busy day is replenished with good food. Haven’t considered this component yet? Let’s talk. I can share my journey and connect you with someone to help.
FUN. Yep. I need to have fun in my day. For me, it might be a trip to the pool with my kids, an extra lap around the neighborhood with friend, or a game of WAR with my 4 year old. In the rare quiet moments, I get to pick up a great book and read after bedtime. Whatever fun looks like for you, make a plan for it and have access to it.
In my work to create a life that I love and can be proud of, making sense of what must happen and how I will arrange things is part of my productivity and pleasure. We get one chance to have the life we love. What would you like to see in it?